Klay Thompson

What we learned as Klay erupts for 35 in Warriors' tight win vs. Jazz

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Coming off the bench for the first time since his rookie season 12 years ago, Klay Thompson responded with his best game of the season, pouring in a season-high 35 points with seven 3-pointers, pacing the Warriors to a 140-137 win over the Utah Jazz on Thursday at Delta Center in Golden State’s final game before the NBA All-Star break.

Thompson, who had 26 points in a win over the Jazz on Monday, came out strong and never let up while extending the Warriors’ lead to 2.5 games over Utah in the chase for the final Western Conference play-in spot. He shot 13 of 22 and finished a plus-seven while eclipsing the 15,000-point plateau for his career during the win.

Andrew Wiggins added 19 points and seven rebounds for Golden State (27-26). Draymond Green chipped in with a season-high 23 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals. Stephen Curry had a quiet night with 16 points on 4 of 14 shooting but dished out 10 assists. Rookie Brandin Podziemski, who got the start in place of Thompson, scored 13 points to go with six rebounds and eight assists.

The win was Golden State’s sixth in the last seven games and marked the 500th regular-season victory of coach Steve Kerr’s career.

Playing on the second half of a back-to-back and facing the same team for the second time in four days, the Warriors took control early when they scored a season-high 84 points in the first half and led by 13 at halftime.

Golden State maintained a comfortable lead most of the game but had trouble closing out the fourth quarter for the second consecutive night. That led to a come-from-ahead loss against the Clippers on Wednesday and nearly tripped up the Warriors again.

After Utah got within 138-137 with 38 seconds remaining, Thompson air-balled a 3-point attempt. The Jazz got the rebound, and after Lauri Markannen missed a go-ahead 3, Utah snagged the offensive board but John Collins threw the ball several rows into the spectator stands.

Curry then made a pair of free throws before Utah’s Collin Sexton missed an open 3-pointer at the buzzer.

The Jazz have lost four straight, two of the L’s coming against the Dubs.

Here are the takeaways from Thursday’s game:

Klay off the bench

Thompson said coming off the bench gave him some fresh legs, which allowed him to regain the lethal shooting form he has maintained for most of his NBA career.

Thompson, who three days earlier put up 26 points against the Jazz, found a comfort zone again at the Delta Center. He put up 17 points in the first half when he repeatedly took smooth jumpers from the perimeter mixed in with efficient drives down the lane.

Kerr hasn’t ruled out using Thompson as a starter again, but if this is the role that the five-time NBA All-Star will remain in the rest of the season, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. With Chris Paul still recovering from hand surgery, the Warriors’ second unit hasn’t been as effective as it was earlier in the season. With Thompson now a part of that unit, opponents are going to have a much more difficult time making much progress when Golden State’s starters go out.

Curry's 3s

Curry had been the NBA’s hottest distance shooter over the last week (no shock there) and was riding a four-game streak with at least seven 3-pointers heading into Utah.

The 3-point king cooled off significantly against the Jazz, making only 2 of 8 shots he took from beyond the arc.

This time around, it didn’t matter too much. The Warriors gave Curry plenty of help on the offensive end, with six players scoring in double figures. All five Golden State starters reached double-digits for just the third time in 53 games this season.

Curry needs to regain his touch in a hurry. He’ll square off against New York Liberty star and Bay Area native Sabrina Ionescu in a NBA vs. WNBA 3-point shootout Saturday in what is a highly anticipated portion of the All-Star festivities in Indianapolis.

Defending the three

The Jazz have been among the NBA’s worst 3-point shooting teams all season but it has been the exact opposite in the last two games against the Warriors.

Three days after connecting on 11 shots from the perimeter in a loss to Golden State, Utah matched its season-high of 22 3-pointers while shooting 44.9 percent beyond the arc.

As much improvement as the Warriors have made on the defensive end, they’re still not doing a good enough job closing out on shooters from deep. A blip here or there isn’t much to get worried about, but when a team like the Jazz can have extended success from outside twice in two games, it has to be a concern for Kerr and his staff moving forward.

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